Recent Publications

Brazil’s Persistent Unemployment Challenge

Georgetown Journal of International Affairs May 3, 2019

High unemployment may become the greatest test for the new government of President Jair Bolsonaro and his Minister of the Economy, Paulo Guedes. Bolsonaro promised to fight corruption and crime during the 2018 campaign season, but a 12.4 percent unemployment rate now threatens to curtail his popularity. According to a September 2018 DataFolha survey, only 14 percent of voters considered unemployment the number one problem facing the new government. The survey showed that most voters were concerned with public healthcare, violence, and corruption. Bolsonaro won the presidency because he exclusively focused on violence and corruption, albeit without well-defined policy prescriptions. Bolsonaro and Guedes gave little attention to the unemployment challenge and asserted that future fiscal stability and deregulation would spark accelerating job creation.

Bolsonaro’s base: the Social Liberal Party’s strengths in Rio de Janeiro could yet become weaknesses

In terms of both support and discourse the heart of Jair Bolsonaro’s Social Liberal Party lies in Rio de Janeiro. Here, aggressive messaging on rising crime and rampant corruption managed to turn a ragtag bunch of political misfits, former members of the security forces, and Bolsonaro associates into the epicentre of Brazil’s recent political earthquake. But as scandals around criminality and corruption begin to reach even the Bolsonaro family, these same strengths could soon become weaknesses if the Rio delegation and the wider PSL cannot pivot away from bombast and towards effective governance, write Mark S. Langevin (George Mason University) and Edmund Ruge in the second of a two-part series on the roots and the role of the Partido Liberal Social.

Wilderness to wildest dreams: the remarkable rise of Bolsonaro’s Social Liberal Party in Brazil

The same disruptive tactics that swept the PSL and Bolsonaro into power may also undermine their capacity to formulate and negotiate the president’s ambitious legislative agenda, write Mark S. Langevin (George Mason University) and Edmund Ruge in the first of a two-part series on the roots and the role of the Partido Liberal Social.

President Jair Bolsonaro (PSL)

President Jair Bolsonaro (PSL)

Brazil elections 2018: the five risks facing President Bolsonaro

Jair Bolsonaro’s remarkable rise to the presidency has already caused a significant shake-up of Brazilian politics. But in the longer term, a looming fiscal catastrophe and sky-high expectations on crime and corruption could lead to political instability or even a constitutional crisis.
Jair Bolsonaro’s victory in Brazil’s 2018 presidential race and the wider success of his Social Liberal Party (PSL) serve to complete a remarkable political realignment in the country.

 
Samarco dam disaster

Samarco dam disaster

When the mega-dam breaks: shaping the future of environmental licensing in Brazil

If the problems and potential of environmental licensing are not taken seriously in this year’s policy debates and electoral campaigns, future development and economic recovery could trigger environmental degradation far more serious than any single mega-dam project, write Mark S. Langevin and Olivia Smith. Since the Belo Monte debacle and with increasing private-sector interest in alternative renewables, Brazil’s energy authorities have begun to openly discount the future construction of mega-dam projects.

 
jht.jpeg

Foot Dragging or Strategic Withdrawal? The Cotton Dispute and Executive Compliance

US – Upland Cotton (DS267), known as the cotton dispute, revealed the limits of the World Trade Organization’s Dispute Settlement Understanding and pitted US agricultural and trade policies against Brazil’s comparative advantages in cotton cultivation. More than any other case, this trade dispute exposed the underlying challenges to advancing the Doha Development Agenda. This article explores US compliance with the Dispute Settlement Body’s successive rulings from 2005 to 2009 by examining executive compliance efforts in the face of congressional foot dragging, and how such efforts shaped the evolution of this trade conflict and framed its resolution in October of 2014. The examination confirms the pivotal role that congress played in preventing full compliance, but also reveals the importance of executive administrative discretion, legislative advocacy, and trade policy orientation in determining the outcome of the cotton dispute and its eventual impact upon US global trade liberalization leadership, including the US government’s strategic withdrawal from the Doha round.